Saturday, December 1, 2007

More about Texas

Recently, those in charge of reviewing math textbooks in Texas found over 109,000 (109,263 to be exact) errors in the textbooks ready for fall distribution. This article states that this was only five times the number of errors last year. The reason for the high number this year was that one publisher company (Houghton Mifflin Co.) contributed more than 86,000 (almost 80% of the total) errors. You might ask, what is the punishment for submitting such trash to be passed off as learning materials? It turns out that the textbook companies have until the spring to correct the errors. If errors are found after that, the publishing company is fined $5,000 per error. That's right. $5,000 per error! So if State Board of Education had not reviewed these books before letting them into the classroom, the would have been an overall fine of $546,315,000 which is more than I carry in my wallet.

Let us now turn to the source of these errors. While there were plenty of computational errors (4+7=10, etc) and answers printed in the student editions that were only meant for the teacher's editions, there were also many severe grammatical mistakes in the Spanish versions of the textbooks due to mistranslation. Now, as a company, how do you let your employees make tens of thousands of mistakes and still manage to survive? I will address this issue in a later post. I believe there are some shenanigans involving the major textbook publishing companies that will take some careful research. Needless to say, the textbook companies have a very strong influence on the education of our children so kudos to the Texas board of education for being so diligent.

The publishing companies involved have until the spring to clean up their textbooks before they will be rechecked and fines assessed. After this process last year, there was only one $5,000 fine. Hopefully there will be none this year.